By Army Sgt. Jerome Bishop
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 30, 2008 - The promise of a prosperous future for Iraq took one step closer to becoming a reality when the Sarafiyah Bridge linking Baghdad's Rusafa and Karkh districts was reopened May 27 after being rebuilt. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was present for the opening event, which featured live music, speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the bridge's roadway.
U.S. Army Maj. Frank Garcia, public affairs officer for the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Multinational Division Baghdad, said the event is important not only because the bridge has reopened, but also because the Iraqi government took the initiative to conduct the reconstruction.
"We didn't have a direct role in this," he said. "It was Iraqi-led, Iraqi-designed, and there were very few coalition members there."
The local economy is expected to receive a boost, as the flow of goods and services will be much easier, Garcia noted.
In addition to tangible, economic gains offered by the reopening of the bridge, the ceremony also marked a more symbolic meaning.
"One side is Shiia, and the other side is Sunni, and there were very good relationships between them," said Mohammed Asadi, a Baghdad native who works as a media advisor for the brigade. "The terrorists tried to send a message: 'We would like to cut the communication lines between these two main groups in Iraq.' But luckily, they didn't manage to do that. And [the local people] sent the message back: 'Here we are, and we are together.'"
The Sarafiyah Bridge, one of several bridges that cross the Tigris River in the Iraqi capital, was destroyed in an April 12, 2007, vehicle-bomb attack that killed 10 Iraqis and injured at least 26 others.
(Army Sgt. Jerome Bishop serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)